November 28, 2014, 01:33:02 PM

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Messages - drmikeinpdx

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While I love the timeless rendition of my 50 Classic, the somewhat random autofocus was getting a bit tiring.  I've seen posts on the net saying that someone sent their Classic in to Sigma service and it came back focusing perfectly.

So last week I packaged up my Classic and sent it off to Ronkonkona (wasn't he a famous disk jockey?) for a tune up before the 4 year warranty runs out in a few months.

Round trip from Portland took 8 days.  Very impressive service by Sigma. The technician included a very short note to the affect that he "adjusted AF data sam"  Not sure what a sam is, but it's nice to know it's been adjusted.

I eagerly got out my big testing chart and did some autofocus testing in open shade outdoors.  I used one shot autofocus. 

Sadly, the autofocus is still somewhat random, definitely no better than before.  I tested at various distances (6-10 feet) and apertures, usually taking two or three shots and noting how much front or back focus.  then went back and tried to duplicate the results.  Sometimes I tried pressing the AF button multiple times to see if it would help.

Most of the time the point of focus is within the depth of field, but often just barely.  Since the lens front and back focused about equally, I decided to leave the microfocus adjustment at zero.

I'm not hearing good reports on the autofocus of the 50 Art lens, so I guess I will just keep enjoying the timeless rendition of the Classic until Canon eventually comes out with their next 50.

Lenses / Re: Something with 50mm L lens that make it different
« on: July 18, 2014, 01:58:32 PM »
It has a timeless rendition to it that you cannot explain with an MTF chart or sharpness test.

I love that phrase!  Mind if I use it in the Sigma 50 classic cult?

Join the cult here:

Photography Technique / Re: 85 vs 135 for portraits
« on: July 09, 2014, 09:55:12 AM »
Thanks for posting that link Sporgon!

Looking at Eastwood's examples, it appears to me that most of the variation in portrait perspective occurs in the range of 24mm to 70mm.  The difference between 100 and 300 was minimal to my eye.

Third Party Lenses (Sigma, Tamron, etc.) / Today's Cult Photo
« on: July 06, 2014, 10:19:53 PM »
Love the photos guys, keep posting!

Here is something I shot today for a friend who rides a Ducati Monster. I shot it with the "EX DG HSM" on my 5D3 at F/1.4, ISO 100, 1/125th hand held in full shade.  As I've said before, this lens does not always nail the focus, but it did pretty well this time.  I will include a crop of the focus point for educational purposes.

With all of my lenses, I typically use Lightroom to add a bit of clarity with the clarity slider and a fair amount of vignetting, especially photos of people in the shade.

HDR - High Dynamic Range / Re: Post your HDR images:
« on: July 01, 2014, 08:48:53 PM »
I've been using Photomatix for scenic shots with my T2i and trying to make them look pretty natural.  But a friend wanted some fun pix of himself and his car, so I put the 5D3 on a tripod with the 28mm F/1.8.  It seems that I really enjoy playing with the Creative styles in Photomatix. :)

This is a typical Subaru owner in Portland.

Dustin, if you want to join our cult, you can't be using terms like "green fringing."   I suggest "magical rendering" would be more appropriate.

And that inaccurate autofocus is "delightful randomness" that adds to the artistic experience!

Judging by what I used to read on the forums when this lens was a popular topic, there were a lot of bad copies out there.  Most of the complaints I saw were related to poor autofocus performance.  When I used this lens on my old 5D classic, the autofocus was terrible.  Most of the time it front focused, so I kept it stopped down a little and focused on the models ear instead of an eye.  I put the lens aside when I got lucky and found a Tamron 28-75 that focused well on that body. 

One day I tried the Sigma again and the front focus was gone, but the autofocus was still not very precise - maybe a 60% hit rate.

When I got my 5D3, all my lenses worked much better, so I started using the Sigma 50 again.  Like all 50 mm lenses in its class, it is pretty soft wide open, so you have to take that into account and use it to your advantage, like when you want a soft portrait for example.

Here is my Sigma 50 classic shot of the day.  Taken at F/1.4 on the 5D3.

You may not be able to see it at this size, but the plane of focus goes through the model's right eye and mouth.  The left eye and tip of the nose are slightly out of focus.  I normally prefer to stop down slightly for portraits with the 50 classic, but I shot some wide open for my forum friends.

Lenses / Re: Quality lens system for lightweight travel
« on: June 28, 2014, 09:40:34 AM »
I love my 5D3 and fast lenses, but I hate to carry them very far.  If I'm on vacation I want to relax and not feel like a beast of burden.  Since I wanted to stay in the Canon line, I use two smaller Canons when I travel.  For motorcycle trips where space is really tight, I carry an S100.  For car trips, I use a T2i with the rather nice stabilized kit lens.

Although the images don't have the smooth, fine detail of full frame images, they are perfectly usable for posting on the internet, which is where most of my photos end up.

I look at these small format images as a challenge to my processing skills.  For example, I recently started using Photomatix to do 3-exposure  HDR images with my T2i.  Although the two images below were taken with a light tripod, I've had really good luck doing this hand held using the exposure bracketing function of the T2i.

This is Diablo dam near Seattle:

This is Dry Falls, also in Washington state.  The tiny objects along the horizon are large grain silos.  Who says you can't shoot landscapes with an APS-C sensor?  LOL

A center crop:

Debating the best photo equipment for travel is fun, as there is no best answer.  It all depends on what kind of photos you take, what you do with them, and how sensitive you are to weight and bulk in your pack.

One other thing I take into consideration is the cost and what happens if my equipment is lost or damaged.  I get a little paranoid carrying my expensive gear on trips, but if something happens to my obsolete T2i, I won't feel bad at all.

Edit: my images got cropped to a square format by the forum software, sorry about that.

Lenses / Re: The sharpness curse!
« on: June 21, 2014, 02:13:36 PM »
Nice post by Ruined!  I also enjoyed the photo by RavePixel - it's a good example of the very shallow DOF portrait style - you can really see how the glasses and the teeth stand out.  I presume it was shot wide open.

Personally, I don't like the DOF to be quite that shallow, so if I shoot wide open for bokeh, I usually stand a bit farther back from my subject (With my old Sigma 50 classic)   Or, I stop down to about F/2.

One of the reasons it is so much fun to talk about lenses is because our artistic preferences give us endless variations of opinion.  Sharpness is just a small part of the equation.  And let's not forget other qualities like my favorite: accurate autofocus!

Software & Accessories / Re: LR 5.5 - Rotated watermarks disappear?
« on: June 21, 2014, 12:20:43 AM »
I've had a lot of frustration with that watermark module too.  Seems like there should be a plug-in for Lightroom that would give more flexibility.  Anybody know of one?

This was shot with the Sigma 50mm F/1.4 classic at F/2 on a 5D3.  I cropped away about 40% of the frame.  I shot several frames wide open, but the model's nose was out of focus.  One stop down works better for me when shooting this close to a model.

Nice bokeh, but do you think there is enough sharpness to use this classic lens for portraits?  Let's zoom in to see...

OMG!  Look at all that unfortunate skin texture!  Look at the red veins in the eyes.  :(    Could it be that this lens is tooo sharp for portraits?  LOL  Maybe I do need to buy that expensive Art lens!

Lenses / Re: Any word on the 50mm with Image Stabilzation?
« on: June 17, 2014, 10:17:33 PM »
Add me to the list of photographers waiting for a stabilized 50mm prime.  Until then I'll just keep using my Sigma 50 1.4 non-Art lens.  It's a good value for $500.  It would not focus very consistently on my old 5D classic, but my 5D3 makes it focus like a champion. 

Now that the new Sigma 50 Art lens is out, the old DG HSM version has been feeling neglected.  So I'm declaring it to be a cult lens!

It may not be as sharp as the Art lens, but there's just something magical about it's rendering, you know?

I will try to find and post some more images that aren't too naughty.  Feel free to post your own if you have this lens and join the new cult. :)

Canon General / Re: Buying refurbished from Canon
« on: June 02, 2014, 10:11:54 AM »
I've purchased a 7D and T2i with good results.  Canon uses expensive shipping and charges sales tax, so you have to include that in your calculations.

I do worry that a refurb item might have some tricky problem that bedeviled the first owner but slipped by the inspection techs.  That is probably unlikely for most consumer grade items.  My guess is that most are returned because the consumer decided they purchased a product that was too complex for them. 

Perhaps more caution would be appropriate for professional lenses and bodies, since a pro is more likely to spot a real problem, like lack of sharpness in a lens or an intermittent electrical problem in a body.

In any case, it is important to test the new item thoroughly as soon as possible.

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